We are big fans of bunk beds in our family. We have bunk beds in both of our homes — and in our beach house we even have a double bunk bed that sleeps up to six kids!

Bunk beds are a great way of maximising sleeping space within a small room, or if you have tall ceilings, it’s a way to make the most of your vertical space to free up valuable floor space for storage, play or studying. And let’s be honest – what kid doesn’t love a bunk bed? They’re cute and playful, and depending on the style of your bunk bed, the top bunk can provide a bit of privacy in a shared communal space.

However, bunks really are a pain when it comes to changing the linens and making the beds! I’m sure any mother with bunk beds will agree with me when I say that changing the sheets on the top bunk requires a certain level of fitness, flexibility (and a few extra deep breaths!).

Since we’ve now designed bunk beds for two rooms, I thought I’d share some tips to consider if you’re thinking of designing bunk beds for your kids.

  • When measuring, allow for a bit of extra space (at least 1cm) around the entire mattress to be able to tuck in your bedding and duvet. (We didn’t do this for our Bangalow home, and it’s extra tight and difficult to make the beds.) So if a single mattress is 90 x 190 cm, I’d allow for the actual bed frame to be at least 92 x 192cm.)
  • Integrate storage into your bunks so your kids have somewhere to put their books, alarm clocks, etc. In our house we designed little niche shelves at the head of each bed, and it’s a nice little cubby space for their personal items. If you don’t have space for it, you can also put a wall shelf (like in the top photo above) for books.
  • Remember to incorporate lighting. We put wall lamps in the niche of both bunks and they each have their own wall switch to turn them on and off. (This has to be planned early in the design phase, so the electrician and do the ‘rough in’ and wire accordingly.)
  • Make sure to allow enough room for children to sit up comfortably within each bunk — otherwise it’s too crammed height-wise. (Opt for low-profile mattresses to make the most of your space.)
  • If you’re looking to maximise the number of people who can sleep in the room, you can add a double bed on the bottom bunk (like we did in the top photo).
  • Install safety rails on top bunks — the taller the rail, the safer they are. (If you design a solid partition as opposed to a horizontal railing, it’s handy for concealing un-made, messy beds — see second photo!)
  • If you’re worried about safety and younger kids climbing too high, you can design a removable ladder. (We did this for our Bangalow house, and if we have little kids over to our house, we simply remove the ladder so no one can get up to the top bunk.)
  • If you’re short on storage, you can design drawers under the bottom bunk (see second photo above). Otherwise, I would advise closing off the space between the bed and the floor, to prevent dust and dirt from gathering under the bed.


For more design and renovation tips, please check out my Renovation Ready podcast.